Title: One Foot Outside the Door
Author: Vina St. Fran
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours
Good lovin’ is easy...But true happiness is harder to
To anyone on the outside looking in through the door of Cyndarella Worthy’s life, it looks like she’s got it all. At thirty-two, she’s beautiful and successful, with a handsome brother lover, Thad Mitchell. But deep in her heart, she holds a candle for Bashar Bazzi, the Chaldean immigrant she loved ten years ago. Bashar left for Iraq and she never saw him again, and she assumes he made a marriage within his own community without a backward glance.
Cyn’s girlfriends, Tavie, Denise and Vette, know that their sister still carries the scars of Bashar, but they pray she’ll find love and peace with Thad. Anyway, they’ve got issues too: Tavie’s dating smart school principal, Mack Dooley, but she can’t escape the rumors that he’s playing around; Denise’s marriage to Sean is under pressure because she hasn’t conceived a second child; Vette’s dating an older guy, Louis Burns, but wonders if she’ll ever get a ring on her finger. When Thad proposes to Cyn and she accepts, it looks like this sister’s finally on her way to true happiness. But no sooner are the celebrations done, when there’s trouble—Bashar Bazzi is home, and he’s ready to settle his unfinished business with Cyn...
Vina St. Fran is the author of the Amorous Trilogy series. She writes contemporary romance, and erotica romance for Zam Publishing, LLC. She also is a Political Contributor for The Examiner. A native Michigander, she resides in the Midwest with her family.
The prequel novel to Betrayal’s Dust
Setting: Michigan; San Diego, CA; Mexico
Cyndarella (Cyn) Worthy, 32, owner of advertising agency, Peachtree Productions and dating auditor, Thad Mitchell, who’s divorced, with one young daughter. Daughter of Willa and Vernon Worthy and brother to Pete Worthy. Had a relationship with Chaldean immigrant Bashar Bazzi from her teens to her early twenties, but then Bashar went to Iraq and she never heard from him again. As Bashar’s family disliked her for being Black, Cyn assumed Bashar had dumped her and made an arranged marriage within his own community.
Tavie (Octavia) Slade, teacher, single. Currently dating school principal, Mack (Mackenzie) Dooley. Tavie has had a checkered love-life, including a broken engagement to New Orleans Saints star, Tyrone Sutton, who cheated with a call girl. Mack’s mother, Mrs. Dooley, disapproves of Tavie, as she thinks Tavie is not classy enough for her son and continually tries to set him up with other women.
Denise (Dee) Lincoln, creative director at Peachtree Productions. Married to Sean, one daughter, Marla (3). Denise isn’t keen to have another child just yet, though Sean wants to. Anyway, she is having trouble conceiving.
Vette (Corvette) Vern, the only White member of the group, she’s currently single but in a relationship with Louis Burns, who is twelve years her senior and has grown-up kids of his own. She owns a court reporting business. She has a troubled relationship with her mother, Tara, a surgical nurse, and was only reunited recently with her estranged father. Vette is inclined to gossip, which can get her into trouble.
The ladies have been the best of friends since junior high, and meet regularly to share the tears and triumphs, the playfulness and passion, and the ups and downs of their relationships with their men.
When the story opens, Cyndarella’s man, Thad, is away on business in Singapore. Cyn hears from Vette that her ex, Bashar Bazzi, is back in town. In 1991, Bashar went to Baghdad and though they had been living together, Cyn never heard from him again. She is thrown by this latest news, but when Thad returns from his trip and proposes marriage to her, she accepts. At their engagement party on St. Valentine’s Day, Thad behaves possessively about Cyn, which sows a small seed of doubt in Cyn’s mind.
Tavie’s relationship with Mack has been going well, she feels. Though she knows Mack has cheated on her, she’s forgiven him and thinks that they’ve worked through their issues. Recently, they enjoyed a romantic mini-break in Toronto. Both were supposed to be attending an education conference, but Tavie is unable to go as she’s still apparently suffering from a stomach ‘flu bug that’s been making the rounds. Mack goes to the conference on his own, and Tavie makes an appointment with her doctor. To her amazement, she discovers she’s pregnant; she’s been taking the herb St. John’s Wort for her anxiety and it has canceled out the efficacy of the contraceptive pill. She decides to travel to the conference to surprise Mack with the news about the baby—but there’s a surprise waiting for her: she sees Mack canoodling with Geneva, a Jamaican fellow teacher, and then they retire to Mack’s room. Distraught, Tavie has a miscarriage, and holes up at Cyn’s place.
Knowing that if she and Louis ever make a commitment he won’t want a family, Vette makes the decision to be a foster parent and starts the process rolling. In the meantime, she has discovered through her court work what really happened to Bashar when he went to Iraq and disappeared in 1991. She has a dossier which she knows she must show Cyn. But first she has to deal with Denise’s wrath. Denise is furious with Vette for revealing that Bashar is back, as she is concerned the news might lead Cyn to break off her engagement with Thad. However, when she hears about the dossier, Denise has to agree that Cyn needs to know the truth.
Vette gives Cyn the dossier, which makes appalling reading. Cyn discovers that Bashar was imprisoned and tortured for four years by the Iraqis. Because he was born in Jordan and wasn’t a naturalized American citizen, there was nothing that the US government could do to get him released. When he did finally leave prison, he spent time in an English psychiatric hospital being treated for post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety; he still has a therapist on call for when he suffers recurrences. Sickened, Cyn realizes she must contact Bashar and see him. She approaches his cousin, Wiyad, who offers to act as go-between and arrange a meeting.
When Cyn and Bashar meet again, it’s clear that the chemistry is still there between them. Bashar has never known why he was imprisoned. Cyn tells Bashar of the agony she has suffered in the intervening years, and Bashar grasps that his family prevented him from seeing her again when he was released, tricking him into thinking that she no longer cared. However, Cyn assures him that had she known he was incarcerated, she would have waited for him. But realizing that Bashar’s family will never accept her, Cyn decides to press on with her wedding to Thad, urged on by her mother. However, she can’t resist contacting Bashar again once more, and accepts his invitation to have dinner when he’s next in Detroit. By now, Bashar knows that he wants Cyn back and, without her knowing, visits her parents. But when she finds this out, Cyn reassures them that her marriage to Thad is still on.
Tavie has told Mack that she knows about Geneva, revealed the loss of her pregnancy and has moved out of their shared home. She’s also been summoned by Mrs. Dooley to visit her. Tavie is aghast when Mrs. Dooley says she wants to help Tavie reconcile with her son. She accuses Tavie of having sat back and been complacent while she was with Mack, which Tavie can’t deny.
Thad breaks it to Cyn that he doesn’t want to have kids straight away after they get married, but wishes to wait a couple of years because he wants Cyn all to himself. Cyn is devastated as he knows she wants to get pregnant as soon as possible, and she wonders why he has waited until now to tell her the truth. She goes to have dinner with Bashar. They talk frankly about what happened, Cyn revealing how hurt she was by his silence and his family’s attitude to her; she came to the conclusion that he’d gone to Baghdad to make an arranged marriage in his own community. They make love, but afterwards Cyn decides she must go back to Thad as Bashar’s family will never accept her. Denise persuades her to come clean with Thad about her night of love with Bashar. A furious argument ensues, and she calls off the wedding, though Thad tries to persuade her not to leave him.
Cyn goes to an advertising conference in Mexico, using it as a welcome chance to have a break and clear her head. She weighs up her options and decides that Thad’s too possessive; Bashar is the one she loves.
Bashar has come to the conclusion that he has to reconcile with his family, so he reaches out to his mother. He lets her know that he loves Cyndarella and is determined to be with her. Mouna carries a guilty secret: she colluded with her husband to have Bashar temporarily held in Iraqi because of family disapproval about his relationship with Cyndarella. However, Saddam Hussein’s regime intervened and what was intended to be a short, sharp shock became a tragedy. She does not tell Bashar this, but knows she has to facilitate a reconciliation for Bashar with the rest of the family, and also persuade them to accept Cyndarella.
On her way home from Mexico, Cyn is forced to stop over in San Diego, where Bashar now lives, because of bad weather, and she contacts him. He comes to the airport and proposes. He’s already asked her father’s permission. Overwhelmed and ecstatic, Cyn accepts, and the wedding will go ahead on the Labor Day weekend—when she was meant to be marrying Thad.
Corvette has got the permission she needs to foster, and is takes in two children, Carly, who’s 4, and her brother, Brent, who’s 3.
Denise discovers she has fibroids, which have been preventing her from getting pregnant. She will get them removed and is told she should be able to get pregnant three months after the procedure is done.
Cyn and Bashar marry quietly in a traditional Catholic service, and then, a week later, renew their vows at Cyn’s church and hold a joyous reception. Cyn has discovered she’s expecting a baby, and eight months later gives birth to a daughter, Nadia.
Tavie is still being pursued by Mack and ends up sleeping with him. He confesses he’s finished with Geneva. But she’s now dating Orville, a Jamaican narcotics agent, and decides to stay with him. Only she’s in for another shock: she arrives unannounced at Orville’s house and secretly witnesses him watching a sex tape that she and he made with Geneva! It turns out that Orville and Geneva were married. Tavie accepts Orville’s explanation, but she vows will have her revenge on Geneva…